Here in the US, Fall is pumpkin season. They're having their annual moment in the spotlight, and they’re everywhere. Fresh at local farms and markets. Decorated for Halloween. Adorning festive front doors. Symbolic of the harvest and Thanksgiving. And most often, they’re in pumpkin-spice flavored beverages and desserts.
But did you know they're so much more than that?! Including an essential ingredient for skin-healing remedies? Read on to learn more...
Pumpkin as a Plant
First, the basics:
- Pumpkins (Curbubito pepo and other variations) have been cultivated for thousands of years.
- They're native to the North America continent, and some of the oldest evidence of pumpkins come from Mexico.
- They're currently grown and used in various regions throughout the world.
- They grow in a range of colors - usually orange, green, white, or a combination.
- Because they contain seeds, they're actually classified as a fruit.
Pumpkin as a Food
Aside from the seasonal novelty items like drinks and desserts, pumpkin is a highly nutritious, functional food. Rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, pumpkin is considered a valuable addition to a healthy lifestyle and nutrient-dense eating.
The seeds are just as nutrient-dense and valuable as the flesh. Some pumpkin varieties produce seeds with light-colored husks which need to be roasted to be eaten. Others are grown for their green, hull-less seeds which can be eaten raw.
Pumpkin soup topped with raw, hull-less pumpkin seeds
In the US Midwest, pumpkin is typically roasted, added to soups, or featured in breads and pies. But my favorite and lesser known form of pumpkin as a food is actually the cold-pressed oil from the seeds.
My first exposure to this gorgeous deep-hued oil was the semester I spent living in Klagenturt, Austria in 1998. (Shout out to the University of Northern Iowa's exchange program with the University of Klagenfurt in Carinthia! That experience was a catalyst for much of who I am today.)
Pumpkin seed oil, or Kürbiskernöl in German, wasn't readily available throughout the US at that time, only here and there in a few high-end specialty shops. But in central Europe it was a common feature in local cuisine, both in restaurants and in home kitchens, so it was an intriguing new taste for me. It added an amazing nutty flavor to salads, dressings, and main dishes. And as you might guess, it's also super nutritious.
Pumpkin Seed Oil (source: Piccantino)
Pumpkins are grown throughout Europe, but the Styrian region of Southern Austria - home to Graz and my dear friend Katrin - is particularly well known for its "green gold" pumpkin seed oil (as well as its wines). I've been lucky enough to visit a few more times since my college semester in Austria, and I always appreciate the foods and flavors!
My favorite dishes are the fresh green salads and warm potato and bacon salads, drizzled with dark green pumpkin seed oil. See the 'Further reading' list at the end for a recipe!
Photos from a few of my visits to Austria
Kürbiskernöl at a local farmer's market
Salad with pumpkin seed oil dressing at a Buschenshank near Graz. A Buchenshank is a small local inn or winery that serves their own homemade cold dishes, juices, and wine. They're a cultural tradition in Southern Austria and are so lovely!
Pumpkin Seed Oil Tiramisu on the breakfast buffet!
Pumpkin seed samples at the Vinofaktur in Styria with Katrin
A Fall visit to the Carinthian region
Pumpkin as a Skin-Healer
While pumpkin seed oil is delicious (it's prized among foodies and chefs for a reason), it also offers amazing benefits when used on the body for health and healing.
It’s rich, easily-absorbed, and blends beautifully with other carrier and essential oils. Because it's high in antioxidants like vitamin E, vitamin C, and zinc, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, it packs a punch in natural skincare formulas.
Here’s quick glance at just a few of the oil’s skin-enhancing properties:
- Helps retain moisture
- Helps balance skin tone
- Helps heal and renew skin cells quickly, especially valuable for wound healing
- Helps ease red and inflamed skin with its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
I chose to feature Pumpkin Seed Oil in two of my Pure Luxe Apothecary formulas, both centered around extra healing and care for skin. The oil I source is grown in the US and is a rich greenish-brown, which is what gives these remedies their unique depth of color.
This soothing, velvety formula is ideal for night-time skincare and adding hydration to dry complexions. And it smells divine! Learn more
Ingredient list: Prunus amygdalus (sweet almond) oil, Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin seed) oil, Organic Rosa mosqueta (rosehip seed) oil, Cera alba (beeswax), Canaga odorata (ylang ylang) essential oil, Boswellia serrata (frankincense) essential oil, Daucus carota (carrot seed) essential oil
This concentrated blend helps reduce inflammation, prevent infection, and promote cellular repair. Useful for incisions, scars, acne, and burns, as well as a luxurious face moisturizer. Learn more
Ingredient list: Organic Rosa mosqueta (rosehip seed) oil, Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin seed) oil, Lavendula angustifolia (lavender) oil, Boswellia serrata (frankincense) oil, Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil, Daucus carota (carrot seed) oil, Anthemis nobilis (roman chamomile) oil
A note on formulas: Pure Luxe Apothecary products are always 100% natural and free from additives, preservatives, parabens, phthalates, emulsifiers, colorants, and any synthetic ingredients.
Add more pumpkin to your life!
So, the seemingly humble pumpkin is actually much more complex and beneficial than one might imagine. Its healing properties are powerful, both inside and out. I'm grateful for my experiences getting to learn more about this lovely plant over the years. I hope you'll consider adding pumpkin seed oil to both your salads and your skincare routine!
With Katrin on a beautiful Fall day at Kogel 3 in Leibnitz, Austria
I believe in keeping things simple, yet sophisticated. Using beautifully effective, natural ingredients, I create luxurious skincare and wellness goods for everyday rituals. In every small batch of Pure Luxe Apothecary products, you'll find a fusion of pure, plant-based ingredients, thoughtfulness, and intention. These modern and minimalist remedies are rooted in holistic health to support your entire being - mind, body, and spirit.
Cheers to good health and happy skin!